Posted in MTM hits the road!, Uncategorized | Posted on 18-05-2014
I can’t believe I made it FORTY years without knowing anything about the North Fork of Long Island. Growing up in the Boston area, anything west or south of Hartford is a Mason-Dixon line of sorts. Red Sox versus Yankees! When I think beaches, I think the cape or the Maine coast. When I think wineries, I think Napa. When I think quaint towns with cute shops, restaurants, and bars, I think quintessential New England. And when I think New York, I think the city–fun for a weekend.
How dare I be so ill informed! Who knew a two hour ride to New London, Connecticut and an easy, scenic 80 minute ferry ride (40 on the fast one!) on the Cross Sound Ferry would open my eyes to a gorgeous area that is part beaches, part farmland, part wineries, part small
town charm? One quick ferry ride saves you 200 miles of potential gridlock and is the gateway to over 50, yes 50, producers of world class wines. Now you know!
North Fork of Long Island, where have you been all my life?! I can tell you this was my first trip to the North Fork, but certainly will not be my last. I was already planning a return trip while I was there—this would be an ideal girl’s weekend or quick getaway with the hubs. I went to Napa once with the hubs, pre kids, and while it was undeniably lovely and such a fun time, it is not feasible at this point in my life to haul across country when I have three young kids and a smaller budget—due to aforementioned offspring sucking me dry! North Fork is so doable from any part of New England for a weekend and it won’t bust your budget to get there. And you get wineries AND the ocean. Wine + the ocean for the win!
As luck would have it, I got the unique opportunity to travel with a few dozen writers to experience all that North Fork has to offer on a whirlwind two day tour with my good friend of Muffintopmommy lore, Lisa the Crappy Photographer. After the mortifying experience of me looking like I was nuzzling Seth Meyers a few years ago
when I stalked him, Lisa was expressly prohibited from operating a camera on this trip. (I wasn’t nuzzling Seth Meyers! I tilted my head so I would look like I had two chins instead of three!)
After a comfy ride to New York on the ferry, which is, by the way, stocked with roomy, cushy seats, a tv room, party snacks, drinks, and adult beverages, we were picked up by the lovely Vintage Tours and driven to a tasty lunch at The Loft in Greenport. By the way, you can bring your car on the ferry if you’d like (the fast ferry is passenger only)—but personally, I could get used to having someone haul me around and doubt I’d bring mine! And, although the weather was rainy, that did not dampen the spirits of anyone we encountered on our two day trip. I spied a fun looking deck at The Loft that I am sure is hopping when the weather is more cooperative. I do think springing for transportation or befriending a teetotaller to drive you is a smart idea and we were grateful for the safe and friendly transportation!
Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue was our first stop. A gorgeous, sophisticated operation, Bedell has been making wines since 1980. What’s interesting to note is that the climate for wine making here is similar to parts of France. Oui, it’s true. One of Bedell’s merlots was served at President Obama’s second inauguration. Well, well, well! While we didn’t get to taste that particular sold out wine, we did taste many and they were excellent. Um, I could say this wine had a hint of vanilla and earthy tones or I detected a note of pear in another, but let’s just say my palate is not that sophisticated. I just know if I taste something and I like it. I’m going to just admit it. I loved them all and we received an education from Richard the winemaker, who was so chill, I could listen to him talk about winemaking all day. Really. You want to really unplug? Listen to someone who has a passion talk about making great wine in a beautiful setting and then get to try it. I haven’t felt a calm like that in a while. Truly.
The Harborfront Inn graciously accommodated Lisa and me, as well as several other writers. This stylish hotel has an excellent in town location in Greenport, with lovely views of the harbor and carousel, and…..bonus…..is directly across the street from a wine shop and convenience store. Hey, you never know when you might need yet another glass of wine or peanut brittle that you cannot eat at home because your kids are deathly allergic so FYI, people! While the weather didn’t permit, it has a nice outdoor pool as well, and is in walking distance to bars, shops, and fine restaurants, like Noah’s, who catered our delicious tapas style dinner at Kontokosta Winery.
Kontokosta Winery is a newer winery, set back from the street, with sweeping views of the water if you are not too lazy to meander across the expansive lawn to see. The building is architecturally stunning but what stood out to me was the genuine hospitality we experienced there. Polly, the manager, poured us everything from chardonnay, to sauv blancs, to viogniers, to merlots to blends and back again, and even let us try their special olive oils. I picked up a delicious tangelo blend for the hubs (he deserved a prize for juggling his schedule so I could go live the high life for two days!) and I can’t wait for him to make me some fish with it. (Ulterior motive revealed.) The owner, Michael Kontokosta, graciously gave us a behind the scenes tour and we were able to sample wines that are not yet ready for distribution. Delish and what a special night that I won’t soon forget.
A night that continued with an after par-tay at the fun, eclectic bed and breakfast, located in downtown Greenport, called Ruby’s Cove. People, this place is a treat, and I hear they serve a mean breakfast. The owner, Donna, is as warm and kind as they come, and rolled out the red carpet for us. I could have sat on her front porch all night, but the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company conveniently located next door beckened, and that’s when Lisa the Crappy Photographer tried to get me thrown in the clink! (Good to know if you need to make a safe dash out: Donna offers free bikes for her guests to use!)
The next morning we were treated to breakfast at Harvest Inn. This it the place to stay if you are a foodie and/or you really want to feel like you walked into the house that Martha Stewart and Ina Gartner would own if they hooked up. This house is the stuff my dreams are made of. A deep, comfy porch, wide pine floors inside, a soothing color scheme with beautiful furnishings….ahh! The husband and wife duo, Christopher and Daroyln, could not have been more gracious and BONUS, he is a native of Boston and is a Red Sox fan. No wonder why I felt so at home. Like that wasn’t enough, he is a trained chef and made a mad quiche with local ingredients that I am still dreaming about. No leggo my Eggo here!
After someone peeled me off their porch due to a quiche coma, we were off to the Old Field Vineyards. One of these things is not like the other…tada. At Old Field, you are greeted by chickens and roosters walking around, clucking (Ok, I’m not sure if clucking is the exact right term for this but they were hooting and hollering and it cracked me up. I was so wishing my boys were with me so I took a short video!). While the other wineries were more slick and sophisticated, this winery is much more an old skool family business, a working farm on land passed down for generations, and the love this mother/daughter farming/winemaking duo has for the whole process, and their clucking inhabitants, is demonstrated in some damn fine wine! While they might not produce the volume of some of their neighbors, they are clearly committed to putting forth the best product possible, and the heart and soul of the place is so palpable as you taste the wines. I just loved that place. I could have stayed all day.
Orient by the Sea was kind enough to fill our tummies with a delicious lunch right before we caught the ferry back to New London. It’s conveniently located right next to the ferry..which sadly, took us away from the North Fork!
Until we meet again, North Fork of Long Island………a sincere thank you for such lovely hospitality….cheers!